April 20, 2010

ITDP Mexico Questions City’s Plan for New Urban Highways

by Ana Penalosa, ITDP Mexico

Just 25 percent of Mexico City residents travel by car. Photo: ITDP
Just 25 percent of Mexico City residents travel by car. Photo: ITDP


On April 9, 2010, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard announced the construction of two new urban highways within the next two years. In response, ITDP Mexico Country Director Bernardo Baranda has openly declared that the planned road project is not the solution to the mobility problems that the city faces.

“The construction of highways is a setback for sustainable mobility in the city,” says Baranda.

Baranda has joined with other organizations to declare that this elevated highway project is incongruent with both Mexico City’s “Green Plan” and the city’s international commitments to environmental issues. Though Mayor Ebrard has stated that there will be fees levied on car users and that the project funding will come from the private sector, many stakeholders oppose the planned initiative.

While 70 percent of Mexico City’s population travels by public transport, just 25 percent travel by car. Experts on urban mobility believe that this statistic should encourage the City government to prioritize the improvement of public transport over the improvement of conditions for private passenger vehicle use.

Mayor Ebrard has made large investments to improve public transport, including the construction of the City’s twelfth metro line. Nevertheless, some of his announced projects, like the construction of ten new bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, will not be completed. Therefore, there are some who now are advocating for the construction of the BRT lines, even if they have to use the model of private investors and system concessions, before the construction of additional city roads.

Mayor Ebrard will host the next COP meeting which takes place in Cancún, Mexico, this October. As host, he may find himself in a difficult situation with so many people in opposition to his proposed project, including members of his own party.

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